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Social Signaling As A Sevice

It's really not hip to be a hipster, Part 2

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Link to Part 1 of this discussion

In everyday life, people are constantly making a judgment: This is beautiful. That is ugly. This is fashionable, that is outdated.

The judgment comes from differences in taste and lifestyle, which really comes from differences in social positions.

Good taste signifies social prestige. It is a performance, something one "does", how one presents oneself for high social status.

Status-insecure people (many Twitter folks) are among the harshest judges. Personal lifestyle choices are on the scorecard. Intellectual choices, fashion, art, and entertainment are all categories in the mental gymnastic of social status.

What signals high social status?

I read an interesting paper studying trends and authenticity in cultural fields. The researcher suggests two traits often signal social status:

  1. Omnivorousness: mixing highbrow and popular cultural items, because it signals openness and cosmopolitanism

  2. Voraciousness: being up-to-date and well-informed about the latest cultural developments, because it signals deep involvement

It's "low status" to follow trends.

Following trends is undesired, criticized, and mocked because it is seen as shallow, fake, or inauthentic.

Twitter mob getting angry at Lex is not just because they are status insecure, but also because this group of people despises inauthenticity. Lex's list of most popular literature failed to convey realness.

So in some way, part of the meaning of Twitter lies in claiming/displaying for oneself the well-sought-after authenticity that other media lacks.

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